Each year, the number of patients with Type 2 diabetes continues to rise. More than 30.3 million people in the United States have Type 2 diabetes. This number is expected to rise to 53.1 million by 2025.

There is a strong connection between Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which consists of heart and blood vessel disease related to atherosclerosis.

Cardiovascular disease can cause heart attacks, peripheral arterial disease or strokes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of patients 35 years and older with diabetes have known cardiovascular disease. Research has shown cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular diseases comprise 58 percent of death in Type 2 diabetes, while cerebrovascular disease (stroke) makes up 12 percent. Life expectancy is considerably shorter for individuals with Type 2 diabetes who have already had a cardiovascular disease event. Seventy percent of people with Type 2 diabetes will die from cardiovascular disease.

You can help decrease your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by following some guidelines and working closely with your health care provider. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure, managing good cholesterol levels, stopping smoking and losing weight are some examples of these.

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, which means it will continue to worsen over time. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to watch your carbohydrates closely in your diet or to be active. The better you adhere to your diet and get moving, the slower the progression will be.

Carbohydrates are the foods that raise your blood sugar. Carbohydrates include corn, potatoes, lima beans, pastas, rice, breads, biscuits, cornbread, fruits, milk, yogurt and, of course, sweets. You can have these foods, but you must limit the amounts.

Portion sizes (amounts) of food will play a big role in helping you control your sugar. Fruit is healthy, as long as you control your amounts. Some common serving sizes include one cup of cubed cantaloupe, 1¼ cup cubed watermelon, 15 grapes, a small apple or one-half banana.

Physical activity helps improve sugar control, lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol levels and reduces weight. Recommendations are 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days weekly for a total for 150 minutes. This should cause a fast heartbeat and some sweating. Exercise can be walking, running, jogging, riding a stationary bike, swimming and chair exercises. Talk with your health care provider before starting an exercise program to ensure you’re safe when doing this.

You may exercise in smaller amounts daily, like five minutes, to get your recommended weekly amount. Even parking farther away from the building or walking to the mailbox will help.

Nurse practitioner Leslie R. Hale sees patients at North Mississippi Medical Center’s Diabetes Treatment Center. For more information about diabetes, call (662) 377-2500.

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